For the second year, Weehawken High School (WHS) was ranked among the top 3 per cent of high schools in the nation by the 2010 US News and World Report’s “America’s Best High Schools” survey. Out of 18,743 schools analyzed, WHS was among 561 schools that earned a silver medal.
The medal represents proficiency in three categories: Standardized test performance, a college-ready curriculum, and proficiency rates of all students including the least advantaged. Gold medals are awarded to only the top 100 schools.
With 59 percent of students “economically disadvantaged,” at the high school, according to the report, WHS was one of the top performers.
“We’re much more prepared for a challenging education.” – Veronica Nunez
The high school is small, with 530 students enrolled. The school was given an 83.3 percent state test performance index, one of the best in the nation. Although the report rated schools on test scores and college acceptance, Nunez said small classrooms are a huge factor.
“We love the attention we get from teachers,” she said. “There are small classrooms here with one-on-one help. If the class is going over something and one of us doesn’t get it, the teacher can stop to make sure everyone understands.”
Hudson County’s only other medalist was McNair Academic High School of Jersey City, a school that selects students based on applications.
Rosa Andujar, a junior at WHS, also attributed the high ranking to the quality of Weehawken’s teachers and staff. “We have some of the best teachers here,” she said.
An early start
While most high schools begin in the eighth grade, WHS starts in the seventh grade, giving students an extra year at the school, and a head start at a successful high school career.
“We start here in the seventh grade,” Nunez said, “so we get to know the teachers and our classmates. We’re much more prepared for a challenging education.”
The extra year also helps students to adjust to a new environment and to get to know their peers.
“We’re one big family here,” Andujar said. “We’re welcoming to the new students – we don’t pick on the freshmen or anything like that. Everyone gets along.”
According to Principal Peter Olivieri, WHS continues to be successful for a number of reasons.
“We have a highly motivated student body and staff that challenges each other at all grade levels,” the principal said.
He said the school offers a number of after-school study sessions including one on Saturdays that has a 98 per cent attendance record.
“The Saturday sessions are scheduled for eighth to 11th grade students to go over material to help pass state tests,” Olivieri said.
Besides all of the extra study sessions, the school also offers academic extra-curricular activities that help students learn outside of the classroom too.
The yearbook publication team and debate team give students another avenue to learn, while trips to Europe every other year are lessons in European culture.
“This is the second time we’ve been awarded this medal,” said Principal Olivieri. “We’re honored to have such great students and staff.”
Sean Allocca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org